The Benefits of a Data-Driven Sales Enablement Strategy

October 18, 2019

Companies use various methods such as surveys and assessments to uncover the critical selling and knowledge skill gaps impacting their sales executives. In many cases, these gaps are preventing sales executives from reaching their full potential and meeting and/or exceeding quota.

Fortunately, building a data-driven sales enablement approach – one that uses self-assessments, big data analysis and prescribed learning to uncover and address individual skill gaps – can be achieved with reasonable effort; and, once established, opens the door to a slew of additional benefits that only data-driven insight can provide.

Benefits such as:

1. Personalized Learning Plans for Increased Impact and Learning Efficiency

At SAP, our Sales Skills Assessment asks sales executives to self-assess their proficiency across a wide range of skills crucial to their success, using a scale from 0 (or, “new”) to 4 (“expert” level). Skills range from universal selling skills (e.g. prospecting, account planning, etc.) to unique skills specific to a role or solution.

By comparing sales executive self-ratings to those provided by their managers (those who are most familiar with sales executive strengths and weaknesses) using the same 0-4 proficiency scale, you’ll be able to flag “gaps” wherever the manager’s proficiency rating falls below the sales executive’s self-rating (e.g. a sales executive rates his or herself a “3” for the skill, “Territory Planning” and the manager rates them a “2”).

This approach makes it easy to then provide sales executives with personalized learning plans, outlining their individual skill gaps along with direct links to prescribed learning recommended to help close each gap.

2. The Power of Positive Correlation Analysis

While personalized learning plans undoubtedly maximize the impact of learning for sales executives, it’s also the macro-level insight gained from skill assessment data that will have learning teams across your organization (even outside of sales) clamoring for more details.

For example, by comparing your skill gap analysis with internal, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) data, you can pinpoint the skills that show the highest correlation to quota attainment (or other vital KPIs).

In other words, you’ll likely find that, among high performing sales executives with a solid record of making quota, there is a shared, high level of proficiency in a specific subset of, perhaps, 4 to 5 skills. This is extremely valuable information and allows sales enablement teams to prioritize learning to sales executives with low proficiency in the skills that correlate most highly to quota attainment while also planning future training to ensure long-term proficiency for all sales executives.

3. Data-Driven Coaching

A data-driven enablement approach also opens the door to new training opportunities that make use of the tremendous insight offered by personalized learning plans and the macro-level analysis described above.

An increasing number of sales executives at SAP are now taking advantage of our data-driven coaching program, which uses personalized learning reports (derived from a close analysis of their CRM and Human Capital Management (HCM) data) in conjunction with 1:1 coaching to help sales executives build pipeline and close more deals.

The availability of data-driven, personalized learning reports allows coaches (certified, internal employees from a range of backgrounds) to go beyond the sole use of intuition in coaching sessions and, instead, focus on only the most relevant facts and figures specific to a given sales executive’s performance in the field.

This targeted approach has had a tremendous impact for sales performance. Compared to non-participants, coached sales executives have (among other impressive developments) increased their pipeline value by 35% and win ratio by 17%.

Key Takeaway

The benefits and opportunities that spring from a data-driven enablement approach are numerous and will continue to help drive sales performance into the Digital Age.

Indeed, once you share this level of unmatched insight with your leadership and provide your sales executives with their first data-driven, personalized learning report and/or data-driven coaching session, there is no turning back.

Global Vice President<br> SAP SE

As Head of Sales Learning at SAP, Mark Crofton leads a global team of enablement professionals responsible for implementing a learning strategy that drives the success of SAP’s sales executives. Mark holds a BA from Tufts and an MBA from Columbia Business School.